Wanda Poltawska

Wanda Poltawska

Image source: https://wszystkoconajwazniejsze.pl/pepites/prof-wanda-poltawska-nie-zyje/

Courage and Compassion: Wanda Poltawska – Psychiatrist, Survivor, and Advocate

Published On: November 13, 2023By

Wanda Poltawska was a Polish psychiatrist, writer, and a former political prisoner. Born on January 15, 1923, in Wadowice, Poland, she gained recognition for her contributions to the field of psychiatry and her resilience during challenging times.

Early Life and Education:

Wanda Poltawska’s early life unfolded in a period marked by significant historical events, including World War II. After completing her medical studies, she specialized in psychiatry. Her education and career were significantly influenced by the tumultuous events in Europe during the mid-20th century.

Resistance during World War II:

During the German occupation of Poland, Wanda Poltawska was actively involved in the Polish resistance movement. She demonstrated courage and resilience in the face of adversity, contributing to the efforts against the Nazi regime.

Imprisonment and Survival:

Poltawska faced persecution and imprisonment for her resistance activities. Her experiences in concentration camps, including Ravensbrück, where she was sent for her involvement in the Polish Underground, shaped her perspective on human suffering and resilience. Her survival and ability to maintain a sense of humanity in the face of extreme circumstances became integral to her later work.

Contributions to Psychiatry:

After World War II, Wanda Poltawska continued her work in psychiatry, focusing on trauma and the psychological impact of war on individuals. Her experiences as a survivor and her deep understanding of human psychology informed her approach to healing and rehabilitation.

Collaboration with Pope John Paul II:

Wanda Poltawska’s life intersected with that of Karol Wojtyła, who later became Pope John Paul II. The two shared a close friendship and collaborated on various projects, particularly in addressing the psychological and spiritual needs of individuals who had experienced trauma.

Writing and Publications:

Apart from her medical career, Poltawska is known for her literary contributions. She authored several books, including works that explored the human spirit, resilience, and the psychological aftermath of war. Her writings often reflect her personal journey and the lessons she drew from her experiences.

Later Life and Legacy:

Wanda Poltawska’s later years were marked by her continued advocacy for human rights and the alleviation of psychological suffering. Her legacy includes her contributions to psychiatry, her writings that capture the human spirit’s endurance, and her role in fostering understanding between different faiths and cultures.


Wanda Poltawska’s life exemplifies the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Her contributions to psychiatry, her resistance against oppression, and her friendship with Pope John Paul II collectively form a remarkable narrative of resilience and compassion. While acknowledging the challenges she faced, it is essential to remember Wanda Poltawska for her enduring commitment to healing, understanding, and the pursuit of a better world.


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